Storm Warnings

Patches of damp sand and gravel mark the spots where are roads flooded in yesterday afternoon’s deluge. A weather person this morning mentioned that we received close to two inches of rain in just an hour yesterday. But heavy rain wasn’t the real attention-grabber yesterday; it was tornado warnings, at least two of them in our region, that had people scurrying for basements and interior rooms. Long ago I signed up on my cell phone for text alerts from the National Weather Service. Up until now, they’ve mostly been for thunderstorms but yesterday got more dramatic. Here are the alerts I received, all for Middlesex County:

  • 1:33 pm – Flash Flood warning until 5:30 pm
  • 2:25 pm – Tornado warning until 3:15 pm
  • 2:40 pm – Flash Flood warning until 5:45 pm
  • 3:36 pm – Tornado warning until 4:15 pm
  • 3:50 pm – Tornado warning until 4:30 pm

And that was it.  Meteorologists I follow on Twitter gave details: The first warning was due to a strong thunderstorm in the Lunenburg area which began showing rotational tendencies on radar as it moved to the northeast.  The later alert was due to a similar appearing storm in Carlisle moving towards Billerica.  Although we didn’t get an alert on it, a similar storm was spotted in the Beverly area.

The alerts were very direct: “Seek shelter now; if you wait until you see the tornado it will be too late.”  Not being experienced in the ways of tornadoes, I’m left wondering whether this was the type of media hyperbole that has become all to common in our culture (“Snow expected; get to the store and buy all the milk and bread you can carry!”) or if such extreme precautions are prudent.  We should all give this some thought since I suspect many, like me, have not mentally strategized the “what to do in a tornado” scenario.  Blizzards and power outages, we’re all set.  Hurricanes, a bit more prepared.  But tornadoes?  No, not yet at least.